Saturday, October 29, 2016

Heart of the Matter

I'm tired. I've been up since about half past four in the morning yesterday, and I would like to go to sleep, but I can't yet. There are times when I lay in bed and I fall right asleep and then there are times like this, where I have the suspicion that God isn't ready to let me. There are times when I've got to process out what I think he's impressed upon me and he wont let me sleep until I do.

There is a  few lines from one of my favorite songs by Don Henley where he says
"I've been tryin' to get down
To the heart of the matter
But my will gets weak
And my thoughts seem to scatter
But I think it's about forgiveness"

 That is pretty much exactly how I'd surmise this post. I've been trying to get down to what I think God would have me write about this month, and I wrote about the 1st commandment of not having any other gods before him... but I didn't get the notion of completion that I usually do when I know I've worked through a post.  My will gets God adjacent instead of inline with God some times and my thoughts are many.  

But this post is about forgiveness. 

I have found it surprisingly easy to forgive people that have committed great sins against me when they admit that they've wronged me. Often my joy at reconciliation eclipses everything else and I am pleased that there would be peace in a relationship again. This is the easier side, when both parties want peace and can own the faults of ones own. 

The part that God has shown me that I struggle with is forgiveness when the other party hasn't sought it. I'm talking when they know they've wronged you because you probably let them know is some kind of loud and clear way. When I screw up, I'm pretty quick to own and apologize for my mistakes, out bursts and creative vocalizations of pain. ( My family can tell you that I'm pretty funny when I'm angry once you get past the brutal barbs that I can throw out, that I try and work hard to not get to the point where I get angry about a thing)  I'm pretty quick to own my blame and my guilt and seek forgiveness. I know I can say ugly things to people I care about when I'm raw and vulnerable. I'm rarely ever vulnerable for that reason actually, and that  well, that is a whole spiral of other things. 
Grace is something that I do my best to apply to people who hurt me out of ignorance. I can even extend that out to things said in anger with the intent to inflict a jab. I have a hard time extending forgiveness to those who show malice, or spite or hatred. 

I might be contradicting. Its nearly 3am and I don't know if this is supposed to be about how we need to forgive people even when they haven't asked for it, or a confession on how I struggle with forgiveness in both giving it and receiving it.  When I've wronged someone that I love, I don't think I ever really forget it. There is this awareness that I care so much about a person, but something gross in me inflicted them. The awareness is something... learning is healthy, guilt is not maybe. At what point can I forgive myself for hurting people that I care about with some truth too harsh to be spoken. 

" “I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.”  Then Jesus said to the woman, “Your sins are forgiven.”- Luke 7

I hold a grudge in some cases. I usually try what ever I can to be at peace with people... but others... the offend my ... well, pride probably. I was going to say my sense of justice, but it's probably pride.
Am I loving them right? I doubt it.
Not long ago I had a falling out with a family of friends and I was justified and right to walk away from a fountain of weirdness that sprung up... and that's what I did. As I was going on of the brothers in this family was grieved because he didn't do anything wrong, but I just needed some distance from the lot. I think that's one thing keeping me up tonight. There are people in that family that I should probably forgive. It's who I should be.


A person forgiven much loves much. I know that I don't want to be a person that harbors forgiveness. I'm Italian for crying out loud, Hospitality and family are serious issues for me.

If my Savior can cry out to God as he was crucified in a plea begging Him to forgive us...

What right do I have to not forgive?
I'm working on that, along with everything else. I'm rough around the edges I know.
Love more.

Forgive like HE forgave.
Like HE forgives.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

First Things First

"Then God spoke all these words, saying,
 I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

 You shall have no other gods before Me." - Exodus 20

In my men's group Bible study we've started going through the ten commandments and this week was this one.  I try to put out at least one post a month for anyone who reads them ( and If you do, I am glad and thank you) but for everyone post that I start, there are about 2 or 3 unfinished ones that sit in the box unfinished. God tells me things in his word but not everything that he tells me is what I'm supposed to share with everyone else. Sometimes I get incensed over something I can see biblically or I have a commentary on something that is said. This time, I was sitting in the Bible study and I knew that this was going to be the post today.

This one command has a few parts in it:
1. I am the Lord your God
2. who brought you out of the land of Egypt.
3.out of the house of slavery
4. you shall have no other gods before me.

"I am the Lord your God" Seems easy enough for most of us to say in our minds, because he obviously is God. He doesn't say I am A Lord who is A God, though. He makes it personal from the start. He's commanded that we recognize him as OUR God. If I had done all the things that God has done, I'd probably insist on recognition too, lest I get mad at a bunch if ingrates and want to smite them all and start over with like, Moses or something. ( Not saying I'm godly, saying I can relate on some things that God feels to a marginal degree)
I think it was Jeff Durban that said "Everyone is already in a relationship with God, and that relationship is either at hostility with God or at peace with God."  I can see that in this.
"Who brought you out of the land of Egypt" I personally see this as God brought me out of the area in which I was afflicted and the land in which harshness occurs. This comes to mind:
The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
 He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You have anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.
Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.- Psalms 23

When I read that I believe that God takes me from the place of hardship and he gives me peace.
"Out of the house of slavery" Sin is bondage. God commands that we be taken out of bondage, out of the house of slavery. This one is difficult for me. Knowing that often I choose sin in all its disgusting ways, I often feel unworthy of being brought out of the house of slavery. I some times think that punishment is warranted. God wants me to be free of that, free of all that would hinder me from him. I, in my own mind sometimes think differently and that is something that on occasion makes me believe that I fail at...
"You shall have no other god's before me"
I don't worship Zeus or Moloch and I don't make offerings to Baal. I try to not get wrapped up in the ways of Mammon and I don't praise Neptune, Dagon or any one of the water types. I do often think that I live by my own hand. I do often think that what ever I do is good enough and that it doesn't matter to God. I do often put my time and effort in things that aren't centered around him. I do sometimes think that I don't deserve to be forgiven. I do some times think that other people who have wronged me don't deserve to be forgiven either, and you know what.... isn't that nearly the same?
When we say, "God doesn't care if I do this" when God's word says that he does, aren't we really having another god before him? Aren't we really making God into OUR own image INSTEAD of being conformed to His?
It comes in various forms. It could be something as simple of eating something that God says isn't food, or something as complex as taking a life that God says wasn't yours to take.

I feel pretty guilty writing all of this because I always know the ways that I could be a better doer of what I believe in. I hold tight to the grace that God has afforded me, and I am glad for His mercy. I lament all the times that I build gods before Him. he still loves and is faithful to save me from bondage and hardship even though I am often not a great believer.